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Texas aiming to outlaw videotaping police

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A bill introduced to the Texas House of Representatives would make it illegal for private citizens to videotape police. Written to impede interference with law enforcement, it would be a misdemeanor if violated.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the House Bill 2918 introduced by Texas Representative Jason Villalba would make private citizens photographing or recording the police within 25 feet of them a class B misdemeanor. Those who are armed with an authorized weapon would not be able to stand within 100 feet of an officer while recording. It did not directly address the protocol for anyone armed with an unauthorized weapon.

Villalba debated with other Twitter users whether he was seeking to make all filming of police officers illegal. “My bill just asks filmers to stand back a little so as not to interfere with law enforcement,” he said.

The ACLU said the bill would contradict existing legal precedent established in a 2011 1st Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Glik v. Cunniffe, that unanimously determined that citizens are allowed to record police. In that case, Simon Glik was arrested for filming Boston police offers during an arrest. The Appeals Court found that the officers had exercised “unreasonable judgment” by arresting Glik.

The Huffington Post reported that only representatives of radio or TV organizations that hold an FCC license, a newspaper that is qualified under section 2051.044 and magazines that appear on regular intervals would have the right to record police.

Most of the public filming that took place during the Ferguson and New York incidents involving police-related deaths of two black men would be considered illegal under the bill. In both cases, witnesses to the events recorded video of police officers while they were on duty and dealing with the public.

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1 COMMENT

  1. If you’re closer than 25′ without a camera, are you good to go? If you are closer than 25′, can you look directly at one of them, as long as you promise not to remember what you saw?

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